Man Avoids Amputation with Orthopaedic Trauma Surgery

Jimmy Oswald runs a lumber company in Batesburg-Leesville. In January, he had a day at work no one there will forget. Inside the warehouse, Jimmy was standing in front of a commercial saw when a forklift a few inches away accidentally began moving and hit him. Jimmy’s right side became pinned between the 9,000-pound forklift and the saw.

The pain from the accident was excruciating. It took five minutes for his employees to move the forklift away.

Jimmy Oswald back at work at Oswald Lumber in Batesburg-Leesville

The 77-year-old suffered compound fractures of the bones in his lower leg and a crush injury causing multiple broken bones in his ankle. If not handled with great care and expertise, that type of injury can lead to amputation.

An ambulance rushed Jimmy to Lexington Medical Center where he underwent emergency orthopaedic surgery.

“When I woke up, the first thing I did was look to see if I still had a leg,” Jimmy said. “I had a great doctor. He fixed it for me and I was so relieved.”

Jimmy’s doctor was Barnaby T. Dedmond, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon with Lexington Orthopaedics, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice. A fellowship-trained orthopaedic traumatologist, Dr. Dedmond specializes in major and minor trauma, including simple and complex fracture care for patients of all ages, with modern and minimally invasive surgery techniques.

“In Jimmy’s case, we assessed his injuries one by one and customized the best course of treatment for him,” Dr. Dedmond said.
Describing the range of orthopaedic surgery resources as tools in a toolbox, Dr. Dedmond said there are many choices and options for surgeons in his specialty.

“No fracture is the same,” he said. “So I pull different tools for each case to do the best job possible for what that patient needs.”

Dr. Dedmond set Jimmy’s leg bones back in line, rebuilt his crushed ankle and concluded the pelvis fracture could heal with intensive therapy.

“A surgeon’s job only begins at the time of surgery,” Dr. Dedmond said. “It’s important to be actively involved in all aspects of a patient’s care – before, during and after surgery.”

Jimmy spent two months in intensive physical therapy and rehabilitation before he could walk again. Because of his pelvis injury, he couldn’t bear weight on his legs for a while.

“I’m still working on it,” he said. “But it’s worth it to be able to walk with your own legs.”

Today, Jimmy is back on the job at the lumber company, working full days and involved in the daily operations.

“The most rewarding part of what I do is walking the road to recovery with my patients,” Dr. Dedmond said. “I share tremendous joy when people like Jimmy are back to life again.”

Jimmy’s family and friends continue to encourage him, too.

“I feel I’m very fortunate to be able to walk again, and that I’m still here,” he said.

He’s thankful to be walking, working and driving now, and values the time he can spend with his five grandchildren.

“I’m going to get back close to where I was,” he said. “I have a lot of things I want to do and haven’t accomplished yet.”

Meet the Patients: Cheerleader Tumbles Strong After Hand Surgery

Madison Kutyla can barely remember a time when competitive cheerleading wasn’t a big part of her life.

“Starting in second grade, I was on an all-star team and competed on weekends in a league,” the 15 year old said. “I’ve always loved cheerleading and tumbling.”

Last football season, she was thrilled to cheer with the Lexington High School varsity squad as a freshman. But during the first game of the season, a tumbling pass on uneven grass landed badly, with a hard impact on Madison’s right hand. She tried to ice her hand and shake off the pain. Injuries can be common with the intensity of the sport at a high level. But this time was different.

“I couldn’t move my hand,” she said. “It looked normal at first, but then it swelled up like a huge balloon.” At Lexington Medical Center’s Emergency department, an X-ray revealed a fracture in her right ring finger and a more serious injury to the middle finger joint.

“I cracked my middle finger knuckle in half,” Madison explained. “You could definitely see on the X-ray that it was going to be a while before I could get back to cheering.”

It wasn’t Madison’s first tumbling-related injury. Just eight months earlier, she dislocated and broke a finger on her left hand.

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David K. Lee, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Southeastern Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, helped her return to top form after her left hand injury. So, that’s where Madison and her parents turned for expertise to treat her right hand.

Dr. Lee told Madison she would need surgery to heal completely. “I tried to remain calm, but I was definitely upset,” she said.

According to Dr. Lee, the middle finger injury was particularly challenging because the damage to the joint could lead to post-traumatic arthritis early in life.

“The spot where Madison broke it could lead to future instability of that joint. If we hadn’t fixed it, she wouldn’t have good function in that hand,” Dr. Lee said. “Between the two injuries, you would look at the finger fracture and think, ‘That’s a bad break.’ But from the standpoint of the future, the joint injury was even more important to treat carefully.”

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For the hand break, Dr. Lee surgically placed two screws to hold the bone in place and allow it to heal. Because Madison wanted to get back to her squad right away, he surgically placed pins under the skin on the middle finger joint, rather than using external pins, a treatment that may have been more typical for a different patient.

“She couldn’t cheer with those pins on the outside,” Dr. Lee said.

Madison said Dr. Lee respected her priority of getting back to cheering.

“I could tell he understood I wanted to be back as soon as possible,” Madison said. “He fixed my hand so I could tumble and cheer safely, and without pain.”

“My ultimate goal in sports medicine is to get patients healthy and happy,” Dr. Lee said. “With a young athlete, I don’t want him or her to feel like he or she is compromising anything because of an injury.”

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Madison’s mom Sally said Dr. Lee also worked to understand the mechanics of what Madison’s sport requires of her hands. As a “base” on the squad, she uses her hands to hold other girls’ ankles on her shoulders, performs cradle catches and does a range of tumbling moves requiring strength and agility.

“We knew he was going to do all he could to get her back,” Sally said. “As her skill level gets higher, the risk of injury is higher; but she loves cheerleading and wants to keep returning to it. She’s in good hands with Dr. Lee.”

After surgery, occupational therapy helped Madison regain strength and flexibility in her fingers.

Just over a month after her fall, Madison was cleared to tumble again. “I had practice the day I was cleared, and it was really nice to be back,” she said.

Dr. Lee says that athletic drive to achieve a high level of physical performance makes his job fun. “I want my patients to return to what they love and have a good quality of life.”

That mindset has inspired Madison. She’s decided that she wants to study sports medicine in college and help athletes like herself one day.